10 Majestic Forts and Palaces That Have Turned Into Luxury Hotels

Live Life King Size! Each one of you must have come across this popular saying in adverts, books and newspapers. Though everyone does try to live their life as grandly as possible, yet it is usually a far cry from the opulence and lavishness once enjoyed by the royalty. India has seen a number of dynasties and kingdoms in its ancient and glorious history, which left behind astounding pieces of architecture as their legacy in the form of Palaces and Forts. Many of these have now been successfully converted into luxurious resorts, which allow us commoners to at least get a small glimpse of what life was like during the age of kings.
 
So here is a list of some of the popular forts and palaces that have now been turned into hotels and resorts:

1. Fernhills Palace - Ooty

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Nestled amidst the breathtaking landscape of Ooty, the Fernhills Palace is a beautiful example of the Colonial era architecture in India. It was built in 1844 under the supervision of Capt. F. Cotton and was designed to resemble a Swiss Chalet with expansive, manicured gardens. During the summers, a lot of British officers and their families used to head over to Ooty to escape from the relentless Madras heat. The Fernhills was a very popular holiday spot for them during this period.

The palace saw quite a lot of changes in ownership until it was finally purchased by the then 12-year-old prince Chamarajendra Wadiyar X, who converted it into the summer Palace of the Mysore royal family. The property is still owned by the Wadiyar dynasty, who successfully converted it into a heritage hotel famous for its aesthetic beauty and sprawling lawns. The interiors are furnished with Burmese teak, antiquities and a very precious ornamental papier-maché ceiling.
 
 

2. Naini Retreat - Nainital

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Though not regarded officially as a palace or fort, the Naini Retreat in Nainital is second to none in terms of grandeur and lavishness. The colonial style property was once owned by the Maharaja of Pilibhit, and traces of its royal connection can still be seen in the hotel and its gardens. One can get an excellent view of the Naini lake and the surrounding valleys from all the rooms. Opened up in 1989, the resort is the best place to have a luxurious stay in Nainital because of the colonial connections of the hotel and the very fact that a King used to stay in the very rooms you might end up boarding!

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3. Taj Falakunama Palace - Hyderabad

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Spread over an enormous 32 acres, the Falakunama Palace was built in 1894 by the prime minister of Hyderabad Nawab Vikar-ul-Umra. It is said that the Nizam of Hyderabad, who came to stay here for a short duration, was so enchanted by the palace that he extended his stay for months. The prime minister gifted the palace to the Nawab, considered to be the richest man in the world at the time, as an offering. The luxurious palace is an incredible blend of Italian and Tudor architecture and is currently managed by the Taj group. The palace is adorned with frescoes, statues, antique furniture and Venetian chandeliers, making the property all the more bewitching for its guests.

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4. Chapslee Shimla

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Once termed as Shimla’s finest residence, the Chapslee House has seen a variety of owners and hosted a lot of important people ever since it was constructed back in 1830. The property used to serve as a Secretariat for the Governor General of the East Indian Company, and this is the very site where the "Shimla Manifesto” was signed between Maharaja Ranjit Singh of Punjab and Shah Shuja, the exiled king of Kabul.

In 1938 the House was purchased by the Raja Charanjit Singh of Kapurthala and the whole estate was renovated to suit the king’s regal taste. The house was converted into a heritage hotel in 1976, thus making it the 8th heritage hotel in the whole of India! Even today one can easily understand why the house was much sought after, just by spending a few moments in the rooms that are indeed fit for a king!
 

5. Jehan Numa - Bhopal

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The very epitome of luxury, the Jehan Numa Palace has a history that can be felt by just taking a stroll through its majestic structure and magnificent lawns. The Palace is named after Sultan Jehan Begum, the longest ruling female monarch of Bhopal. In fact, she was one of the successive female rulers of Bhopal, and perhaps the most popular and powerful one. Under her reign, Bhopal saw immense economic and cultural growth, which is easily visible in the beauty of the palace. Jehan Numa is a beautiful combination of British colonial, Classical Greek and Italian Renaissance architecture. The property was converted into a hotel in 1983 and ever since throngs of visitors have set foot in the hotel, only to be left stunned by its sheer beauty and architecture!

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6. Lalitha Mahal - Mysore

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The second largest palace in Mysore, the Lalitha Mahal was built on the orders of the Maharaja of Mysore exclusively for the purpose of housing the then Viceroy of India. It was constructed in 1921 and after the Viceroy’s visit was used as a guesthouse for the Maharaja’s special European guests. The Mysore rulers were famous for their love for arts and architecture and this inclination is clearly visible in the architecture of the palace. The pure white palace is built in a classical Renaissance architectural style and adorned with stained glasses, Belgian crystal chandeliers, Italian marble, Persian carpets and various other luxuries. The estate was converted into a hotel in 1974 and is the perfect place to experience the opulence and grandeur of the old Mysore royalty!

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7. Taj Lake Palace - Udaipur

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Rightly crowned as the most romantic hotel in the world, the Taj Lake Palace is unlike any other hotel in the world. Built in the center of a lake, the luxurious palace-hotel was constructed in 1746 on the orders of Maharana Jagat Singh II. It is said that the king commissioned the construction of the palace after he was spied cavorting around with the ladies of his private chambers. The guests are greeted to the palace with a shower of rose petals and then sent on a romantic tour of the whole premises. The interiors of the palace look as if it's straight out of a fairy-tale, what with all the glass ornaments, silk carpets and colorful tapestries. The hotel is extremely famous with celebrities and business tycoons all around the world for destination weddings and romantic getaways!

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8. Rambagh Palace - Jaipur

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Ever since its initial construction in 1835, the Rambagh Palace has seen a number of transformations and renovations over the years to finally become the stunning piece of architecture it is now! The Palace was the residence of Maharajah Sawai Man Singh II and his consort Maharani Gayatri Devi. A fun fact about the property is that the very first building that was established on the site was a garden house, built in 1835 for the wet nurse of prince Ram Singh II. The Jaipur royalty cut no costs when it came to designing and decorating the palace and the final outcome is a testament of that. It was converted into a luxury hotel in the year 1957 and has played host to a plethora of important personalities over the years.

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9. Fort Jadhavgadh - Pune

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The incredible Fort Jadhavgadh is an 18th-century fort and one of the very few heritage properties in Maharashtra. Perched on the top of a hill, the Fort is located on the old Pune-Satara road amidst green fields and beautiful ghats. The fort was built by Pilaji Jadhavrao, who was a General in the army of Chhatrapati Shahuji, to serve as a safe retreat and residence for him and his army. Now converted into a resort, the fort still stands strongly as a reminder of the ingenuity and brilliance of the Marathas. The resort is furnished with artifacts from the Maratha era and guests are still welcomed to the property with a traditional Maharashtrian temple as a tribute to the glorious days.

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10. Umaid Bhawan Palace - Jodhpur

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Rated as one of the World’s best hotel, the Umaid Bhawan Palace certainly needs no introduction. The Palace is so huge that only a part of it has been converted into a hotel, the rest being occupied by the royal family till date. So you will be literally sharing a roof with actual royalty! Apart from its beauty, the purpose behind Umaid Bhawan’s construction is also very noble. When Jodhpur was facing severe famine during early 1900s, the then king Umaid Singh commissioned the construction of this palace so as to provide a means of employment to his subjects. A king with a golden heart indeed!

The architecture and sheer size of the Palace usually induces loud gasps and ooh-aahs from the astounded visitors who are fortunate enough to stay here. The lawns are huge and well maintained, the entire building made out of sandstone & marble and the interiors furnished to perfection. Experience luxury like nowhere else!
 
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So what are you waiting for? Your chance of living like a royalty just lies a single click away! Pick out a date and start packing your bags right now!
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
ROHIN RAJ ROHIN RAJ

Little by little, one travels far... - J. R. R. Tolkien | | These magical words brought out the traveler within me, and prompted this 'Engineer by mistake', 'Fauji Brat by birth' and 'Ninja by fantasy', to start compiling all of those miles traveled into beautiful words!

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